Monday, February 2, 2009

How far have I come with living greener?

I am always looking for that next step to take toward living greener. How can I reduce my consumption of resources? I have made some strides in 2008 toward this important facet in my life. These include:

Composting everything I can including dryer lint, cotton balls and kitty poo
Turning off the shower spray as I am soaping up or adding conditioner to my hair
Using cloth wipes more often than TP
Choosing to consciously purchase used items rather than new
Gardening in a mostly organic manner
Cleaning the house with borax, vinegar and baking soda
Minimizing toilet flushes (if it's yellow, let it mellow)
Choosing to bring a reusable bag when I shop
Bringing a towel to work to dry my hands
Taking compostable waste from work and other people to add to my pile
Using handkerchiefs

All of these actions means I consume less water and create less waste, benefiting not only my bottom line but future generations as well. The less I use now, the more is available for my nieces and nephews--and I have nine of them right now! Still, there is plenty of room for me to improve. Some ideas are limited by my situation (no public transit and 14 miles to work means I drive) and my goals (my money is committed to emergency savings, a newer car and a future farm).

What are the next steps I can take for 2009?

Reducing my water usage further: I plan on adding a third rain barrel to my collection potential this spring. By expanding my garden, I increased my need for supplemental watering. I am more conscious of my water usage for dish washing and laundry, but will try to reduce consumption levels there as well.

Decreasing my use of disposables: I intend to expand my use of cloth wipes and have plans to add reusable feminine products to my bathroom. I need to be more conscious of what I buy and how it is packaged. While I love having the occasional snackie at work, I end up throwing away a lot of plastic packaging.

Reducing my use of petroleum: This is a tough one as I live in suburbia and work in another city. However, I intend on finding a regular person to carpool with during the year. My experience has been mixed, but I like having someone else driving. I already combine trips, limit my single-purpose driving and let my car sit in the garage at least once a week. I need to reduce my driving even further so I am hoping that combination birthday parties for my nieces and nephews will continue as that will reduce my longer distance driving.

Limiting my purchase of new items: I enjoy going to the thrift store and garage sales in the warmer months. Since I changed my focus to secondhand items, I am pleased at all the items I have purchased used rather than new, some that I had never considered before. I plan on actively seeking used options before new with the exception of some home improvement items. Paint for my home's exterior, for example, has to match the current shade, and I am unlikely to find exterior semi-gloss in the right color for my home other than at the hardware store.

Gardening and buying local food: I have big plans for adding to my garden and subsuming my lawn--parts at a time anyway. I like the farmer's market as a way to access fresh local food and U-pick places to get locally grown and fresh ripe fruit. I have lots of jam to make this year! Currently, I am debating about working for a CSA share to get some experience with a larger organic farm, but I still need to contact a couple of local farms to figure out if this is the right choice for me.

These ideas are a mix of concrete and theoretical, but generally can be easily implemented. All require either hard work or readjusting my thinking. Plus, I do not want to take on more than I can handle so that I am rewarded by my behavioral change rather than feeling penalized. Are there any green goals you are making for your life?

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